By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Dil Dhadakne Do”; Cast: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Zarina Wahab and Parmeet Sethi,; Director: Zoya Akthar; Rating: ***/12
Narrated from Pluto, the omnipresent family dog’s point of view, “Dil Dhadakne Do” is a classic and an oft-seen tale about love, freedom and hypocrisy in a dysfunctional family.
The story is the usual, run-of-the-mill; a family meets for a grand occasion followed by a catharsis. Here it is to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of Kamal (Anil Kapoor) and Neelam (Shefali Shah) Mehra, the most envied couple in Delhi’s high-flying society.
To keep up with his standard and image, Kamal Mehra sponsors a cruise to Turkey and Greece for his family and friends. But unknown to the rest of the world, Kamal Mehra and his family are battling their own demons.
The senior Mehras are an estranged couple, Kamal is a shrewd businessman, whose every move in life revolves around his business. His wife Neelam leads a pretentious life. Son Kabir (Ranveer Singh), a good-for-nothing in the eyes of his father, desires to take up flying, but is expected to take the reins of his family business. Daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra), married to Manav (Rahul Bose), is a promising entrepreneur locked in an unhappy marriage.
The rest of the troupe too, come with their own baggage of grouses and heartbreaks.
On the cruise, the inevitable happens. It is fascinating to observe the layers of their persona and drama unfold with stimulating performances from the ensemble cast.
Ranveer Singh as Kabir and Shefali Shah as Neelam Mehra outshine the other actors. Ranveer is a complete package, with a blend of a restrained, as well as an exuberant performance. He steals your heart, as he plays the charming Kabir with panache.
On the other hand, Shefali Shah emotes with her expressive eyes. Her expressions are worth a freeze, especially in the scenes; when she is depressed and binging on the chocolate cake and when Ayesha tells her about her intention to divorce.
Farhan Akhtar, in a special appearance as the journalist Sunny Gill and Anushka Sharma as the dancer Farah Ali, play Ayesha and Kabir’s love interest. With limited on screen time they both leave an indelible mark — Farhan with his controlled and understated performance and Anushka with her usual vibrant and uncomplicated demeanour.
Ridhima Sud as Noorie Sood makes an impressive debut. She is cast opposite Vikrant Massey and they make a competent pair.
Anil Kapoor as Kamal Mehra walks through his performance in the first half of the film but breathes life into some intense scenes in the latter half. Priyanka Chopra had her share of wow moments as Ayesha, while Rahul Bose as Manav, her stiff-upper-lipped husband, is his usual self and offers nothing spectacular.
Among the character actors, Zarina Wahab as Manav’s mother and Ayesha Raza Misra as Indu, Kamal’s sister-in-law, have their moments to shine.
Treated as a family drama and mounted on a wide canvas, the writer duo Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar maintain a perfect pulse of humour and drama, balancing the well-etched character graphs to the plot. They succeed in presenting the dichotomy in the relationships. With spurts of entertaining and poignant moments, they hit the right notes and emotions, but falter at places by taking cinematic liberty in certain scenes with respect to the point of view.
The dialogues by Farhan Akthar are as quirky as the characters in the film and they liven the scenes.
The voice lent to Pluto, is that of Aamir Khan, which you realise only once the credits roll.
The music and background score is well-meshed into the narration. It is the cinematography by Carlos Catalan that is impressive. His one-take shot of the entire song “Gallan goodiyaan” is remarkable.
With a run time of nearly three hours, the pace of the film is slow, but it’s entertaining!